Flame retardant problems linger in Lake Erie smallmouth bass

Capital News Service
LANSING — Levels of hazardous flame retardants in most Great Lakes fish are declining – or at least researchers thought they were. But a new study shows that this isn’t the case for Lake Erie smallmouth bass, an important game fish. And the contaminated fish threatens the health of some people who eat them. Smallmouth bass: Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants that were commonly used in furniture, electronics, construction materials and textiles, said Michael Murray, a staff scientist for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office in Ann Arbor.

Asian carp would change fish species in Lake Erie

Capital News Service
LANSING — A new study by researchers based in Ann Arbor suggests that Asian carp would disrupt the food web and decimate native species like walleye if they invade Lake Erie. And that could blunt the economic impact anglers have on nearby communities. A second study by a Michigan State University economics researcher will compare the study’s predicted changes in fish population and the number of fishing trips taken in the region. Invasive silver and bighead carp are already abundant in nearby Great Lakes watersheds . They devour microscopic plants called phytoplankton and animals called zooplankton, the first food of popular fish like walleye and Chinook salmon.

From tank to pond bully — it's parrot feather!

Capital News Service
LANSING – State officials fear a return of the aquatic invasive plant, parrot feather. The plant called parrot feather has had two appearances in Michigan, in Oakland County and in Brownstown Township in Wayne County. It flourishes in lakes, ponds, and other shallow waters, said Matt Ankney, the early detection rapid response coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife division, but it does have the potential of spreading to Lake Erie if it is not contained. The plant has a distinctive bright green color and can grow up to five feet long. Unlike native plants it can grow above water, Ankney said.

Canals help restore, restock Lake Erie’s largest wetland

Capital News Service
LANSING — A four-phase, five-year process is underway to restore one of the largest coastal wetlands in Lake Erie. Erie Marsh contains 2,217 acres of wetlands that are home to 65 species of fish and 300 species of migratory birds. That’s according to The Nature Conservancy, the organization tasked with cleaning up the marsh. Only around 5 percent of the wetlands in western Lake Erie remain from the mid-1900s, when pollution and dike construction harmed the quality and flow of the water, according to the director of the operation to restore the marsh in southeast Michigan near the Ohio border. Dikes built more than a half-century ago to control water flowing into the wetlands cut the marsh off from the lake, said Chris May, the conservancy’s restoration director in Michigan.

Oh, buoy! Info from webcams helps anglers on lakes Michigan, Erie

Capital News Service
LANSING — A newly activated webcam on a Lake Michigan buoy can help forecasters and anglers get a better sense of weather and water. The buoy is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes, said Edward Verhamme, a project engineer with LimnoTech, the Ann Arbor-based engineering firm that will maintain the buoy through 2015. Every 10 minutes the buoy reports the average wind speed, direction, gusts, air temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wave height and water temperature. Additional sensors measure and report rainfall and hail intensity. The webcam is a new feature that helps verify the data that the buoy measures.

Restoring the flow of a long-contaminated Michigan river

By Brian Bienkowsi
Capital News Service
The mouth of a Michigan river with a history of environmental problems will again flow naturally and reconnect Lake Erie to inland towns. But the project could introduce new problems.
Officials in Monroe, Mich., 40 miles south of Detroit, are cleaning up the River Raisin and altering a series of dams to allow natural flow. The project will let fish swim up the river and canoeists and kayakers to enjoy the 23 miles of the river before it empties in Lake Erie. The city is now opening water flow in the lower three miles of the river, which has four dams. The second phase opens the next 20 miles upstream, which has four dams. Some dams cannot be removed because they are built above sewer pipes that are at a certain elevation for gravity flow. So planners are researching other ways to create natural flow.